These attacks of November 26, 2008 hit home, occurring in places I know well and visited in the recent past with my family. I can vividly imagine the horror, as with 9/11. Also, like 9/11, this bears all the marks of Al Qaeda. The skillful exploitation of holes in security, the focus on U.S. (and British, in this case) citizens as well as Jews, the choice of target for dramatic effect and to exploit media attention. The choice of the Taj Mahal hotel as the centerpiece of the attacks, rather than an American-owned hotel, indicates that the focus is on the Indian elite, and Indian collaboration with the United States as evidenced in the recent U.S.-Indian nuclear deal. Although the killing is indiscriminate, the attack itself is a precisely condensed dramatic statement. These attacks also show the limits of Al Qaeda power at a particular moment. The attack was not on US or British soil, it did not involve weapons of mass destruction.
Barack Obama needs to go beyond expressions of outrage, horror, and sympathy for the victims to indicate quickly that he understands that this was an attack on the United States, on whomever else it may have also have been an attack. He needs to pre-empt a neo-conservative seizing on the attack to justify the fear mongering that has characterized the last eight years, and that the people of the United States so recently refused to be stampeded by.